New Saints and Pope Francis

On 27th April two canonizations will take place in Rome. Two Twentieth century Popes will be proclaimed “saints” by the Catholic Church. John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli 1881-1963) and John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła 1920-2005) will be included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “by canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors” (828).

John XXIII and John Paul II were the two major Popes of the last century. It was John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council, the most significant event in contemporary Roman Catholic history. Then it was John Paul II that re-launched Catholicism as a global player, after decades, if not centuries, of prevailing self-defensiveness. The fact that the Church is canonizing the two together on the same day communicates a clear message concerning the present Pope. In a sense Francis wants to be identified with the “pastoral” afflatus of John XXIII while at the same time following the dynamism of John Paul II…

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About the author

Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.